The Golf Club: Collector’s Edition Review – Design and Play (PS4)
The Golf Club: Collector’s Edition isn’t a game; it’s a simulation. Well, I guess it is a game too, but not in the same way other golf games, such as the Tiger Woods or Hot Shots golf games are. The Golf Club attempts to give players a realistic golfing experience than normal golf games, but that isn’t necessarily a good thing.
It Ain’t Easy Being on the Green
The Golf Club is an incredibly difficult game, which might not be bad if it wasn’t unnecessarily difficult. See, this golfing simulator wants players to have a genuine golfing experience, meaning that fun and helpful features found in other golfing games, such as the ability to see exactly where your ball will land or the ability to influence the path of the ball in midair, are not available. The game goes so far as to even remove the swing meters that can be found in most other golfing games — those little meters that tell you, generally, how hard your swing will be and how far the ball will travel.
In The Golf Club, players have to use the right analog stick to swing, and the further it’s pulled backwards, the further the player’s golfer moves his or her club backwards. On paper, it should be fine, but the golfing game also calculates how hard you push the stick forward as you take a swing at the ball. Based on a combination of how far the club is brought back and how fast the stick is pushed forward, a power percentage is generated. 100 percent means the ball has traveled about as far as the club allows (each club can be switched out before every swing and each club has the maximum number of yards the ball will travel if the club is used displayed at the top of the screen), and 80 percent, for example, means the ball has traveled 80 percent of the distance listed. Since players have no numbers or meters to refer to when bringing the club back or pushing it forward, and since the percentages only show up after the ball has been hit, it becomes incredibly difficult to actually make your shots go the distance you want them to go.
Putting, in particular, is very, very hard to do. The difference between 60 percent and 70 percent of the total putter power can mean the difference between missing the hole completely or reaching par. Without a clear way to judge how hard the ball is being hit until after it has actually been hit, new players are at a complete disadvantage. I found that the only real way to become decent at putting is simply doing it over and over again until you get a feel for it — there is no real strategy to put into play. Besides the controls and the lack of feedback, however, the gameplay is fairly standard as golf can be — there’s a hole and players need to knock a ball into it. Nothing out of the ordinary there, expect for those pesky controls that are hard to learn.
The huge learning curve makes multiplayer matches tricky to jump into, which is unfortunate, as The Golf Club emphasizes multiplayer gameplay. Most of the game modes, barring the newly added Season Mode, allow for and encourage multiplayer gameplay. The game supports both online play and local play, with up to four players being able to play a round of golf at once. Thankfully, the golfing game also lets players play against “ghosts” that other players have created, giving you a chance to compete against someone else without being embarrassed if you do terribly.
And you probably will do terribly, at least until you get a feel for the control system. That’s okay, though, because the real fun of The Golf Club lies in the Greg Norman Course Designer. Here, players can create beautiful and elaborate golf courses ranging anywhere from 1-18 holes in length. The Course Designer is actually pretty easy to use — players pick one of nine themes, such as the Countryside Theme, the Tropical Theme, or the Rural Theme, and then give the course a difficulty rating, as well as a general idea of how many trees, bodies of water, and bunkers the course will have. After that, the game creates a randomly generated course based off of your preferences.
This course can then be tweaked and molded, as players can choose the time of day, can alter the height of the landscape, can place objects, and can even place animals. I spent about two hours designing a Rural Themed, 9-hole course, complete with a few lakes, a family of ducks, a farm house with cows, pigs, and more outside in a pen, and a few sitting areas filled with butterflies and deer. Player courses can be shared online and rated, meaning there are literally hundreds of different courses players can download and play.
I should probably mention the actual differences between the newly released The Golf Club: Collector’s Edition and the August 2014 release simply called The Golf Club. The Collector’s Edition features everything that the original game had, but adds in a few key feature. The biggest addition is the all new Season Mode, which allows players to rise in rank through five different seasons, moving from the amateur tier all the way to the elite ranks. Around 50 AI opponents stand in the player’s path to victory, making Season Mode a fairly lengthy single-player adventure.
The Collector’s Edition also adds in a new Tropical theme, giving the golfing game a total of nine different themes players can choose from. The Tropical theme adds in a whole slew of new trees and vegetation for use in the Greg Norman Course Designer, and players can now even add a whale into their courses. No, these additions are not exactly game changers, but they do help make The Golf Club a more enjoyable experience, as well help to make it more accessible to people who want to spend time with the Greg Norman Course Designer or go through more single-player gameplay.
I wouldn’t say that you should go out and buy The Golf Club: Collector’s Edition simply for these new additions, but I do recommend the game if you think creating beautiful golf courses is your cup of tea. While the controls can be hard to get used to and there is little shot feedback, the game features standard golfing gameplay which can be fun if you can ever learn how to correctly hit the ball. I’m not sure if I would recommend the game to casual golf fans, but if you are really looking for a golf game/sim on the PlayStation 4, it probably wouldn’t hurt to give The Golf Club: Collector’s Edition a try.
Review copy provided by publisher. For information on scoring, please read our Review Policy here.